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Pew Report: "Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America"
Thinking About Corrections


As part of the Public Safety Performance Project's work with states to improve public safety and control corrections costs, the Pew Center on the States/The Pew Charitable Trusts collaborated with two of the nation's leading polling firms, The Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, to explore public opinion on sentencing and corrections issues across the country.

2012 polling, consistent with 2010 research, indicates that voters are concerned first and foremost with keeping communities and people safe. Without question, voters want a strong public safety system where criminals are held accountable and there are consequences for illegal activities. They also believe that these goals can be reached while reducing the size and cost of the prison system. A national public opinion survey conducted in January 2012, along with similar surveys in Georgia, Missouri, and Oregon, found those attitudes persist and revealed opinions on specific policy solutions.

The poll tested public support for a variety of sentencing and correction reforms, and there is widespread support for shorter sentences and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent crimes, especially when prison savings are reinvested in less costly supervision options

Key takeaways

1. American voters believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment.

2. Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.<

3. Support for sentencing and corrections reforms (including reduced prison terms) is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

PEW Report: Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America


Posted Fri, May 11 2012 8:28 AM by Anonymous


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This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.